For the first time, Charlotte Pride has been designated an extraordinary event. The interim city manager made the decision public on Tuesday.
On Monday, Charlotte Pride had released a statement refuting rumors that the event had already been declared an extraordinary event, after a flier began making the rounds on social media that stated it had been designated as such.
“On August 1, 2016, members of our local LGBTQ community expressed legitimate concerns regarding the potential of increased police presence and security as the result of a possible declaration from the Charlotte city manager making the 2016 Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade, scheduled for Aug. 20-21, 2016, an ‘extraordinary event’ this year. To our knowledge, the city manager has not yet officially made this declaration,” the statement reads.
It goes on to state that in an effort to make the event more welcoming for all community members, the organization had begun reaching out to local community leaders when they felt the festival and parade might be met with such a designation.
“In the past several weeks, we began taking proactive steps to address these concerns, including scheduling meetings with representatives of the local Movement for Black Lives,” the statement reads. “These conversations began before we learned about the possibility of an extraordinary event status this year. Upon learning of this possibility, we again met with representatives from the Movement for Black Lives to hear their concerns and we began the process of discussing these concerns with CMPD and other city officials.”
This is apparently an outcome the organization was hoping to avoid.
“We were disappointed when we were informed on July 14, 2016, that this year’s festival and parade might be labeled an extraordinary event,” it says.
They further explained that they were “keenly aware of the implications that increased policing may have on our LGBTQ community, especially for trans communities and people of color.”
They pledge to continue working with both the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and community members to ensure everyone in attendance feels welcome and safe.
“If the city manager chooses to make this declaration, such a designation could heighten police security and presence at the festival,” the statement reads.
The extraordinary event ordinance also bans certain items, such as backpacks, duffel bags, coolers, glass containers, spray guns, pepper spray, masks and scarves.
“There may be times when a person is in possession of these items for a legitimate purpose,” a document on enforcement of the ordinance states. “Officers will not immediately arrest/cite someone simply because they are in possession of an item. Instead officers will determine whether the person is in possession of an item while going to or from an activity in which that device is used for a legitimate purpose. If so, then the ordinance would not apply and no enforcement action should be taken unless the person actually attempts to use the device as a weapon to injure another person or to damage property.”
“In light of recent international events including terrorist attacks, and in order to provide a safe and secure environment, we will need to expend significant public safety resources during this event,” a CMPD memo announcing the extraordinary event designation reads.
“The goal of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is to provide a safe environment for members of our LGBTQ community,” Rob Tufano, of CMPD, told WSOC-TV. “We have requested an extraordinary event declaration for the upcoming Charlotte Pride Festival. This request is consistent with other similar sized public outdoor events including Speed Street, the CIAA Tournament, Fourth of July Sky Show and New Year’s Eve celebration.”
“The CMPD will continue to work hard to ensure members of our LGBTQ community have a safe environment in which to celebrate,” he added.
Black Lives Matter Bay Area pulled out of the San Francisco Pride Parade this year due to increased police presence.
In Toronto, Black Lives Matter shut down the parade until their demands were met, which included the exclusion of police floats and more representation for queer people of color. The group also made a point not to participate in the Vancouver Pride Parade due to police involvement and presence.
Cleveland Pride was cancelled this year over security concerns. So too was a pride picnic in Texas, after someone made a threat against the event online.